Terrence Jones pushed in the post. He was a rugged rebounder.
The Kentucky forward had such an impact on the Wildcats' win at LSU last Saturday that Tigers coach Trent Johnson said Monday that, "if Terrence is going to show up and play like that, they need to crown (UK) right now."
John Calipari isn't ready to go that far.
But as No. 1 Kentucky (21-1, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) prepared for its Tuesday meeting with rough-and-tumble Tennessee (10-11, 2-4), Calipari stressed the importance of Jones continuing to play
"We were all happy in that locker room (at LSU) and the team was ecstatic," Calipari said. "It wasn't (because of Jones') scoring. He was tough. He came up with balls. He posted physically strong. Even though the guy battled him, he battled him back."
That's the Jones Kentucky needs moving forward, Calipari said, as teams continue to try to bully the Cats with burly bodies.
Physical play remains the logical approach for upsetting the Wildcats, and Tennessee, which bumped and bruised Kentucky during a 65-62 UK win in Knoxville, Tenn., earlier this month, figures to give grinding another go Tuesday at Rupp Arena.
The rematch, Calipari said, is "going to be a hand-to-hand kind of deal."
Not that Calipari wants the game played that way.
"I'm preaching that we're not fouling," Calipari said. "We're playing not to foul. We want six fouls at half. We don't want it to be a roughhouse, win-in-the-weight-room game. That's not how we play."
But Tennessee's personnel is best suited for a tough game.
In Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes, the Volunteers have one of the SEC's most physical front lines, tipping the scales at a combined 515 mostly-muscular pounds.
Maymon had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the teams' earlier meeting in Knoxville. Stokes, a midseason addition who was playing his first college game, had nine points and four rebounds off the bench.
Now a starter, Stokes averages 10.6 points and eight rebounds per game.
"I mean, I don't think he really made that big of an impact," Jones said of Stokes' showing in the earlier meeting. "Whatever he had wasn't that big to me."
But Calipari knows that Stokes and the Vols will look to get tough with his Cats. That's what he's expecting in most every game for the rest of this season.
And perhaps that's why he didn't stop with imploring Jones to play a physical brand of basketball. On more than one occasion Monday, Calipari not-so-subtly campaigned for SEC officials to tighten the way games are called.
To hear the UK coach tell it, his Cats are being walloped without whistles. There are pushes in the post that are going uncalled. He hinted that allowing excessive physical play led to a hard foul on Anthony Davis during Saturday's win at LSU.
"And if that's all let go, it leads to grabbing," Calipari said. "'Well, I'm allowed to smash this guy in the face, because that's how the game's going.' And that's why I say, just call the game the way it should be officiated and there's no issues. You don't get to that. Just call the fouls."
Big Blue Balance
Marquis Teague's scoring average has slipped to 9.9 points per game, so for now at least, UK doesn't have six players averaging double-figure scoring. Still, UK remains balanced. Four different players have led the Cats in scoring in at least three games this season: Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb (six times each), Anthony Davis (five times), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (four times) and Darius Miller (three times).
Kentucky's 7-0 start in SEC play is its best since 2005, when the Wildcats got off to a 10-0 start en route to a 14-2 league record. This is the 20th time UK has started 7-0 in SEC play. The Cats won the conference title in 17 of the previous 19 seasons in which it got off to a 7-0 league start.